7 Reasons You Have To See John Waters’ “Multiple Maniacs”

With The Criterion Collection set to release John Waters’ Multiple Maniacs on Blu-ray March 20 following a painstaking restoration of the original negative, Top 10 Films discusses 7 reasons why this “cavalcade of perversion” has to be seen to be believed…

7 Reasons You Have To See John Waters'

It’s John Waters’ funniest film

John Waters is better known for other films like which, dare I say, is slightly more accessible but Multiple Maniacs is where the depravity started. It was his “training wheels” movie as the writer-director has described it. It’s a film with warts and all. And when I say “all”, I mean all.

Multiple Maniacs was way ahead of its time

Anticipating the “peace and love” generation was about to find itself shoved out the way for more cynical thinking founded on suspicion, division and hate, John Waters’ Multiple Maniacs wasn’t simply about being shamelessly absurd, it was made to get a reaction that transcended laughter or disgust.

“[Waters] did it by breaking on through to the other side of the counterculture, the side that had been hiding there all along. The ’60s were spent, and the love generation was over; what Waters found in its place was the hate generation. He was way ahead of his time,” says Owen Gleiberman, Chief Film Critic at Variety.

Guerrilla filmmaking at its most raw

To say Multiple Maniacs was shot on a shoestring would be an understatement. The budget was $5,000 (borrowed by Waters from his parents who refused to watch the film) but the director, who carried out almost all the technical duties on the production including being his own cinematographer, editing the film, and creating the music in addition to writing and producing, still needed to stretch the budget further. Having written an explicit lesbian love scene in a church he had to con the priest into allowing the film crew to shoot there. The priest had no clue what was being filmed. When he saw the film during one of its screening, Waters said he saw the man crying.

7 Reasons You Have To See John Waters'

Despite being rough around the edges (to say the least), it’s a great snapshot of its time

And prescient in the time of Donald Trump. Multiple Maniacs, by its writer-director’s own admission, is a product of its time. “This was in the peak of peace and love, but it was also at the peak when everything fell apart like crazy,” John Waters told The Guardian. “There was such a war going on then between the hippies and the straight world; and straight didn’t mean heterosexual … it meant you didn’t smoke pot or you didn’t think the revolution was going to happen.”

“For all of its chaos, it’s a surprisingly familiar and timely picture of growing activism, anti-establishment sentiment and youth rebellion,” said Rebecca Nicholson in The Guardian.

Shot at the end of the 1969 it anticipated the downfall of hippy culture. “It was right before everything ended. Woodstock, Altamont, the Manson murders. It was a movie to comically go against the hippy values,” said Waters.

Multiple Maniacs features scenes you’ll never forget

John Waters’ favourite actor Divine endures dinner featuring a rancid cow’s heart which, surprisingly, is seemingly less appealing than the ensuing scene that has to be seen to be believed!

It’s the “most disgusting film ever made”

Its explicitly blasphemous nature and the sheer elongated way Waters forces his audience to be the perverse voyeur is another reason Multiple Maniacs is unforgettable and worthy of seeing just to say you’ve experienced it.

Multiple Maniacs … contains a sex scene so audaciously inappropriate, so uproariously blasphemous that it makes the antics in Pink Flamingo look rather quaint,” said Jamie Dunn in The Skinny.

The film has not looked or sounded this good since its original release in 1970

7 Reasons You Have To See John Waters'

The Criterion Collection is known for its brilliant restoration of classic films. Multiple Maniacs has received such treatment with Criterion working with American art house distributor Janus Films to undertake a complete restoration under the supervision of director John Waters. Fans won’t have seen Multiple Maniacs look or sound this good since its original release in 1970. The new Blu-ray presents the film in 4K alongside an uncompressed mono soundtrack.

Multiple Maniacs is available to own on Blu-ray from March 20, 2017 courtesy of The Criterion Collection.

About the Author
Rory Fish has loved movies since he can remember. If he was to put together an "all time" top 10 of absolute favourites it would have to include North By Northwest, 12 Angry Men and Sunset Boulevard.

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